The Amiable Alps: Walking Tour Du Mont Blanc

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The Alps are not Europe’s last unexplored wilderness. They’re well mapped, lovingly criss-crossed with a silvery web of paths held in adulatory high esteem by walkers, trail runners and cyclists alike. Anyone walking the Tour du Mont Blanc is propelled up and over the passes by cheery yellow plastic signposts, impossible to miss, the direction to the next hut more clearly marked than the indistinct borders between countries. You sense rather than spot your crossing – as you suddenly realise the slope is now Swiss when you see a cross-hatching of white and red flag bunting, no border post in sight.

Lac Cheserys on the French side of the route


You’ll rarely find yourself alone with these mountains. The Alps are heaven for hikers who thrive on comradery, who enjoy calling ‘Hello!’ in as many languages as they can to passing walkers. This is a journey for people who see a chalet on the top of a pass and think to themselves, fantastic, time for a drink. You’re never far from a cold beer or a hot chocolate, depending on the weather.

Refuge on the Tour du Mont Blanc


Yet not a one of these chalets serves as a souvenir shop. Your purchases are tasteful, edible treats rather than tacky fridge magnets. The people you meet every day have all got one magical, wonderful thing in common: a love of mountains.

Who couldn't love a view like this?


After all, nobody ends up in these gites by accident. They’re removed from the roads and towns – some are so far from the road that their supplies of bottled Coke and Snickers bars are dropped in by helicopter. You earn your slice of myrtille tart with every step you take up the col, which is the perfect calorific offset for the flaky, buttery pastry piled with blueberries and magnificent mountains of cream.

Pink Alpenrose flowers on the circuit


This is the fuel that sets you up for what is undoubtedly one of the greatest walks you’ll ever do. The Tour du Mont Blanc is a full 360 degree loop around Europe’s best-loved peak, a route which just lines up the views one after another after another. You feel you ought to be less awestruck by day ten, as though your brain should have adapted to a constant stream of reach-for-your-camera views at this point. (You don’t get used to it, by the way. Your jaw will keep dropping every time.)

The Brevent overlooking Mont Blanc


Grand Balcon Sud, on the Mont Blanc Circuit


Walking Tour du Mont Blanc Yourself

There are many options for walking the Tour du Mont Blanc, whether you want to go as a group, independently, have just one week to spare or two. Here is our selection: Tour du Mont Blanc Camping Trek - the iconic full circuit, staying in a mix of wild and regular campsites. Tour du Mont Blanc Hotel Trek - the same fantastic route, but staying in small chalets and gites for a proper bed each night. Self-Guided Tour du Mont Blanc - complete the classic circuit independently, with comprehensive route notes, maps and luggage transfers all included Mont Blanc Highlights - a one week trip taking in the highlights, staying in a beautiful chalet with outdoor hot tub near Chamonix. Tour du Mont Blanc Week - a fast and light one week trip covering much of the circuit.  

In Praise of Circuits

Usually going round in circles is considered a bad thing. However, ask any trekker and you’ll find a very different consensus (unless, of course, they’re lost… but we won’t talk about that). A multi-day, point-to-point circular walk takes you away from the day tripping hotspots. It leads you deep into the mountains, a wide loop to immerse you in a landscape as you see the subtle changes day on day. You don’t have to retrace your steps. You don’t have to take a bus to the start of the trailhead every day. You can enjoy life at walking pace. If you have the time, it’s one of the finest ways to take on the mountains. More Circuits For You: Annapurna Circuit Everest and Gokyo Lakes Circuit

Learn more about these kind of trips...

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